Q’s Plan in Star Trek: Picard, Explained

The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Picard Season 2, Episode 10, "Farewell," which premiered Thursday, May 5 on Paramount+.

From the first minutes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Jean-Luc Picard has been plagued by the cosmic entity known as Q. It was no surprise to fans when John de Lancie reprised his role as Q opposite Patrick Stewart's Picard to renew their rivalry with a season-long arc in Star Trek: Picard. With Season 2 having concluded, fans can now look back on Q's master plan to literally change space and time.

The second season of Picard has been difficult for fans to followbecause of the time-travel scenarios therein. Some time-travel shows (such as 12 Monkeys, the series co-created by current Picard showrunner Terry Matalas that included an Impractical Jokers cameo) have very strict rules. They take great pains to explain how and why certain things work and don’t work. In Picard, the rules remain vague. How or even why Q changed the past to create the nightmarish future the crew of La Sirena fled is elusive, even after the finale. Q's seemingly magical behavior is at odds with the science of Star Trek.

Season 2 eventually reveals that Q is dying. It seems like it’s just de Lancie's Q, but then it may be the entire Q Continuum facing its mortality. This wraps up a possible future plot hole for Star Trek: Discovery or any other post-Picard series. The Q have only been active in the known galaxy for about 30 years. To an eternal, omnipotent being, 30 years is a short distraction at the end of the line. As the Q “move on,” as the character puts it in the finale, it will explain why there are no Q in the future. An increasingly unstable Q simply messed with Picard and Captain Kathryn Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager a few times because they interested him.

After showcasing cruel fates for many familiar faces, Q reveals that his main goal was to get Picard to accept himself. Q has always been that kind of adversary that is as much friend as he is foe. Yet when Picard puts the skeleton key behind that loose rock in the past for him to find in the future, it’s a big moment. Picard Season 2, Episode 9, "Hide and Seek" reveals that key was used to free his mother from a locked room -- before she took her own her life. Picard blamed himself for that, and much of his story during the season focused on him forgiving himself.

Naturally, Picard asks Q the questions that fans ask every time he shows up: why is he doing what he’s doing, and what is so special about Jean-Luc Picard? The answer to both is simply that he “matters’ to Q. “Even gods have favorites,” he says, “and you’ve always been one of mine.” He wanted to give Picard the chance to free himself from a lifetime of grief and regret over his mother’s death. In hiding the key for his younger self to find in the future, Picard accepted his fate and freed himself from that blame. To Q, this is an important step that Picard needs to take to move forward.

“You chose the Jean-Luc you are….and because you choose him, perhaps he will now be worthy of someone else to choose,” Q tells him. Q doesn’t want to die alone; he also doesn’t want that for Picard who throughout canon has mostly avoided the kind of romantic entanglements other Enterprise captains sought with vigor. “Maybe you will give [yourself] the chance to be loved,” Q says. Season 2 seems like a lot to go through just to get Picard to forgive himself. Tallinn and Elnor -- who both died on this mission -- may think so. But Q has an answer for that, too.

Picard explains that Tallinn “dies in every timeline,” but the one that just unfolded in Season 2 is the only one in which she meets the woman she protected for decades. Elnor? Well, since Rios decided to stay in the past when Q sent them all home, he had some spare energy with his dying gesture to revive him. The moment Rios returns them to is the one viewers left in Picard Season 2, Episode 1, "The Star Gazer." The Borg have arrived, and Picard is about to blow up the USS Stargazer to prevent them from taking the ship.

One difference this time is that Q's dealings with Dr. Soong freed Kore from him and gave her a life of her own. In their conversation, Picard asks Q if there is a matter of galactic import he’s needed for in the future. Q chastises him, asking if one life is not “enough” to justify saving it. But there is a bigger development at hand -- a trans-warp tube opens in the center of the galaxy. It’s much larger than any the Borg have ever used, and it's about to expend a massive amount of energy throughout the galaxy, killing trillions.

The Borq Queen is revealed to be not the original Queen but the object of her obsession Agnes Jurati, now fully integrated into the Collective but still herself. Jurati's Queen has a plan to “harmonize” the shield of the Starfleet and Borg ships in the area to absorb the energy from this trans-warp tube. Her plan works and also ends with the Borg -- the most hated and evil villains in the Star Trek franchise -- being given provisional Federation membership to help stand guard against this new, mysterious threat.

Q is the closest thing that Star Trek had to a god, and Star Trek: Picard Season 2 made it seem as if he was finally going to conquer time and space. However, the latter half of the season revealed the truth. He was helping Picard move forward in his life while also preparing him and his allies to save the galaxy. Not a bad last run for the mischievous antagonist -- something fans might even call heroic.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is now streaming on Paramount+.

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